Stories of Alpine Commons

Stories of Alpine Commons
We seek to explore the influence of hydro power plants of the KWO company on Swiss alpine landscape, culture & traditions through intervention & film.

make a stuffed bird laugh
Berlin, Germany & Eindhoven, Netherlands
We are a group that met working together in a art center in an old coal factory in east Germany, which has been transformed to produce green energy.
Team members
Livni Holtz
Sebastian Reinicke
Nicolas Seiler
Field of work
Architecture, Design, Ecology, Film, Research
Project category
Rural spaces
Project submitted

Together, we are a team of architects and designers who examine the processes of gradual change and adaptation of social and cultural phenomena within energy cultural landscapes. The team was formed at E-Werk, a transformed coal factory now producing green energy. Having designed an inflatable pavilion out of fire hoses together, organised symposiums on the theory of de-growth, and filmed projects on spatial topics, we seek to further our practice on energy infrastructures. Sebastian studied Architecture at the University of Arts in Berlin, focusing on sustainable futures. Livni and Nicolas both studied at the Academy of Design in Eindhoven, focusing on how crises of our time affect traditions like crafts and labor. Together, we bring our expertise to exploring narratives through film.

For most of his life, her grandfather drove up cattle to the alpine pastures collectively with the people of their town. They spent the spring together freeing blocked roads from landslides & avalanches, as well as tending to the landscape. Years later, a growing company had carried out a plan to build a dam & flood the pasture, on which her grandfather had spent years together with his community. He swore to never return to the flooded pasture, to keep his memory of the pasture unaltered. Growing up, she had always enjoyed visiting the lake that had been created by the dam, where her father now worked. Over time, she finally convinced her grandfather to go see this beautiful lake, though once there, her grandfather could no longer hold back tears. She tries to reassure him of the lake’s beauty, but he replies that she does not know what once was.
During a month-long field research trip, this story was told to us in an interview by a resident of the small, alpine town of Guttannen, Switzerland. Through film, we have been documenting our research on the influence of the hydropower company, KWO, on landscape, culture & tradition. We have identified a metabolic rift that is growing over generations, a silenced conflict, & learned about a centuries old system of communal work. This system was established to maintain a symbiotic relationship between farming & landscape, which became a structure for social & environmental resilience.
In cooperation with the town of Guttannen, we are organising a shoot for the end of May, about the resolution of the non-monetary currency, Tagwannen, measured in hours of communal labour. Furthermore, having been accepted for the Furka Residency, we will be working on a publication this summer to summarise our research & investigate ways on how to communicate communal systems & their balanced relationship with nature. There are a myriad of facets to explore on energy infrastructures, as we feel this is only the beginning for us.